The time has come for your tenants to move on. You are dreading the vacancy and the hassle of trying to find a new tenant. New tenants mean new relationships and a process of understanding expectations for both the landlord and the tenant.
Thankfully, there are ways to reduce your vacancy turnover so you don't have to wait as long to start making money again. We have previously discussed the ways you can attract good, long lasting tenants, but the long and short of that is that you get better quality tenants if you ask for higher rent, and you can only get higher rent if you offer a premium product in the market you are in.
To reduce the tenant turn-over and length of vacancy, try these tips the next time you are handed notice:
- Refinish the walls: A fresh coat of paint goes such a long way, but go the extra mile and fill pin holes and scrape off bumps and paint globs too. Make the walls smooth and flawless, followed by a fresh coat of neutral paint. A fresh coat on the walls will make your trims look tired, so don't forget them too. You would be surprised how much better a place can look by just doing this.
- Bathrooms and Kitchens: You don't have to completely renovate the kitchen or bathroom each time someone moves out. However, if you want the place filled with a great tenant quickly, set the tone, and have these rooms show how you want to see them kept. A thorough cleaning of appliances in the kitchen followed by a good general deep clean of both rooms will go a long way. Have little maintenance issues like leaky faucets or noisy refrigerators fixed. For your showings, have shiny surfaces free of fingerprints, replace old caulking, and even replace old knobs on cabinets and vanities. These changes are easy and inexpensive, and a clean, spotless unit is an easy yes to a prospective tenant.
- Your First Impression: Your tenants might do a drive by before they even give you a call. Have your exterior looking its best before your ad is placed. Have grass trimmed, shrubbery manicured, mailboxes, numbers and light fixtures at their best. Also, try adding flowers to make the place appear more welcoming. A tidy designated garbage area will help too.
- Staging: Staging isn't always a cost people are willing to carry, but it does help the potential tenants visualize the space better. If cost is an issue, consider moving a few of your own items into the unit. If not, there are also online programs you can use that can virtually stage the unit. You can use these photos as your information package when people come through.
- Showing Suggestions: Turn on all the lights before showing, lay down a welcome mat, have slippers available for people to walk around the unit, have some hangers in the closet for people's jackets, open all curtains and blinds, have hand towels and soap in the washrooms, get some fresh flowers, have the place spotless.
- Get them through your door: If you ask for a high price and don't have pictures in your ad, they might not even bother trying. Get yourself some great photos of your unit and have them edited properly. If you are going to ask for a higher rent, you need to market your property proportionately to the price. Hire a professional, or ask a camera savvy friend for a favour. Have the photos done at the optimal time of day, all lights on, all curtains open, all clutter gone. These photos are a first impression of your interior, so make sure they have good things to say about you. Check this album below as an example of what I mean:
Here are two different apartment living rooms in the Belleville area, which are currently available. Both are 2 bedroom units, one is staged with good quality photos at $950 a month, and one is empty with dark, dingy photos at $1,100 a month. Where are you going to live if you had to choose? Easy choice, right?
Remember: Having the place at it's best is an easy yes, and shows that you are a good landlord. It can potentially justify higher rent as well.